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Francisco Marroquin University, a Bastion of Libertarianism


Вторник, 13 Сентября 2011 г. 15:03 + в цитатник
By Marla Dickerson
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

June 6, 2008

Leftist ideology may be gaining ground in Latin America. But it will never set foot on the manicured lawns of Francisco Marroquin University.

For nearly 40 years, this private college has been a citadel of laissez-faire economics. Here, banners quoting "The Wealth of Nations" author Adam Smith -- he of the powdered wig and invisible hand -- flutter over the campus food court.

Every undergraduate, regardless of major, must study market economics and the philosophy of individual rights embraced by the U.S. founding fathers, including "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

A sculpture commemorating Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" is affixed to the school of business. Students celebrated the novel's 50th anniversary last year with an essay contest. The $200 cash prize reinforced the book's message that society should reward capitalist go-getters who create wealth and jobs, not punish them with taxes and regulations.

"The poor are not poor just because others are rich," said Manuel Francisco Ayau Cordon, a feisty octogenarian businessman, staunch anti-communist and founder of the school. "It's not a zero-sum game."

Welcome to Guatemala's Libertarian U. Ayau opened the college in 1972, fed up with what he viewed as the "socialist" instruction being imparted at San Carlos University of Guatemala, the nation's largest institution of higher learning. He named the new school for a colonial-era priest who worked to liberate native Guatemalans from exploitation by Spanish overlords.

Ayau believed universities should stay out of politics and "place themselves beyond the conflicts of their time." Easier said than done, considering that at the time, Guatemala was under military rule and in the midst of a civil war.

A CIA-backed coup in 1954 had toppled the country's democratically elected president, Jacobo Arbenz Guzman. His proposal to redistribute unoccupied land to peasants infuriated the nation's largest landowner, U.S.-based United Fruit Co., and stoked fears in Washington that Guatemala would become a Soviet satellite. Arbenz's ouster unleashed a bloody internal conflict that lasted nearly four decades.

Whereas San Carlos University actively aided leftist guerrillas, Francisco Marroquin preached the sanctity of private property rights and the rule of law. The cheeky Ayau chose red as the school's official color "on the theory that it had been expropriated by the communists and we shouldn't cede them exclusivity." He wore a bulletproof vest under his academic gown at the first graduation ceremony.

Tensions have mellowed since peace accords were signed in 1996. The same cannot be said of Ayau, whose nicknames include "the curmudgeon" and "Muso," short for the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. His once-ragtag school now ranks among the finest in Central America. And he continues to irritate diverse factions of this impoverished nation with his unshakable faith in free markets, personal liberty, small government and his insistence on "no privileges for anybody."

Some leftists deride him as a lackey of the ruling classes, dishing up neo-liberal dogma to rich kids in a nation where a few powerful families still call most of the shots. Conservative elites chafe at his op-ed harangues about their cozy oligopolies and government protections.

Ayau delights at the potshots coming his way from both ends of the political spectrum: They signal that someone is listening.

"Ideas are powerful," he crowed recently, showing a visitor an auditorium named for the late American free-market economist Milton Friedman. "We're making progress."

Ayau's unflagging passions have turned Guatemala into an unlikely whistle-stop for all manner of capitalist luminaries.

Friedman, the University of Chicago economist, was one of four Nobel laureates in economics to have lectured at Francisco Marroquin. The school has bestowed honorary doctorates on billionaire publisher Steve Forbes and T.J. Rogers, the swashbuckling chief executive of Cypress Semiconductor Corp.

John Stossel, co-anchor of ABC News' "20/20," was honored this year on campus, as much for his ideology as his Emmy awards. An avowed libertarian, Stossel got a warm reception for his discourse against government regulation.

"We celebrate the message that this university teaches because economic freedom makes everybody's life better," Stossel said to rousing applause.

No matter that Francisco Marroquin has made little headway in its own backyard.

Today, more than half of Guatemala's population of 13 million lives in poverty. Namibia and Botswana rank higher than Guatemala on the Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom. Guatemala is one of the most corrupt nations in the hemisphere, according to Transparency International, a nongovernmental organization. Land ownership is concentrated in few hands. Key industries such as sugar are controlled by powerful oligopolies that saddle poor consumers with high prices.

"They are insatiable," Ayau said.

Still, Ayau points to a few small victories. Francisco Marroquin graduates were among the key architects of the 1996 deregulation of Guatemala's telecommunications industry. The country now boasts a competitive sector with some of the lowest rates in Latin America. About three-quarters of the population have mobile phones.

Francisco Marroquin "is like this little gem in the middle of this region," said Donald Boudreaux, a George Mason University economist who has lectured at the university. "It has a sterling reputation."

How a small Guatemalan college became the darling of free-market circles has everything to do with Ayau, a charmingly abrasive dynamo who looks nowhere near his 82 years of age.

Born into a middle-class family in Guatemala, Ayau spent much of his youth in the United States, where his mother moved for a time after his father's death. He attended Catholic high school in Belmont, Calif., then headed to the University of Toronto, where he studied chemical engineering.

He dropped out after reading Rand's "Fountainhead." The novel's protagonist, Howard Roark, is expelled from architecture school after refusing to conform to its tired standards.

"I realized when I read Rand . . . that I was starting out my life all wrong," Ayau said. He said he concluded that "I have to study something that I like, otherwise I'll never be any good."

Ayau eventually earned a mechanical engineering degree at Louisiana State University and returned to Guatemala to work in the family's industrial gas firm. He joined a business council that lobbied the government on various issues. But favors granted to specific people and industries didn't make Guatemala grow any faster. Ayau wondered what role the state should play to ensure that everyone had a crack at prosperity.

So he set out to teach himself economics. One of the first books on his list was "The Affluent Society," a 1958 bestseller by Harvard economist John Kenneth Galbraith. A longtime Democratic Party advisor, Galbraith believed that government spending on healthcare, education, infrastructure and anti-poverty programs was essential to society's well-being. Galbraith wrote that "wealth is the relentless enemy of understanding."

Ayau wasn't persuaded. "I read the first two pages and I said, 'This guy is nuts!' " he recalled.

He later picked up a pamphlet by Ludwig von Mises, a member of the so-called Austrian School of economics. Considered one of the fathers of modern libertarianism, Mises abhorred state intervention in the economy. He believed that open markets, individual choice, private property and the rule of law were the means to a prosperous society.

Something clicked. Ayau read everything he could find by Mises, Friedrich Hayek and other Austrian School economists. He started a small discussion group among some Guatemalan friends and eventually traveled to New York to attend lectures at the Foundation for Economic Education, a free-market think tank. Through contacts there he met Mises and others whose works he'd been reading. At Ayau's urging, several traveled to Guatemala to speak to his tiny band of free marketeers, who by now were calling themselves the Center for Economic and Social Studies.

The center published pamphlets, wrote newspaper op-ed pieces and held seminars. But the group concluded that young people were the key to change. They would start a private university teaching natural law and free-market economics.

They founded Francisco Marroquin in 1971 and began classes a year later with 40 students in a rented house.

Enrollment is now at 2,700, and the university offers 18 degree programs, including journalism, architecture and medicine, on a beautiful, modern campus.

All students speak English. Entrance requirements are stiff. So is tuition. At $8,000 a year for some programs (more than three times the annual gross national per capita income), it's the priciest university in Guatemala. University President Giancarlo Ibarguen said the sum was justified by the good job offers graduates receive.

There are no sports teams and no affirmative action in hiring or admissions. Instructors can forget about tenure; there is none. Ditto for the protests and sit-ins that are common in public universities in Latin America. If Francisco Marroquin students are unhappy with the product they're getting, they're free to take their business elsewhere.

"If you don't like Macy's, you go to Gimbels," Ayau said.

Critics scoff at the so-called House of Freedom, as Francisco Marroquin likes to refer to itself.

"What they sell is discipline . . . a uniformity of thought that easily translates into dogma so that students graduate from campus believing that they are unique possessors of truth," said Mario Roberto Morales, a respected Guatemalan writer and intellectual.

"The truth is that the university exists to indoctrinate the children of the oligarchs."

Andrea Gandara, a 24-year-old political science major, begs to differ. The daughter of middle-class parents, she said her instructors had been consistent in their criticism of both mercantilism and socialism.

Gandara said she wanted to take what she has learned at Francisco Marroquin and communicate it to a wider audience, particularly the millions of low-income Guatemalans that she said elites had written off as ignorant and easily manipulated by socialist rhetoric. Her career goal: president of Guatemala.

"People aren't dumb. They want to make more money. They want to have more opportunities," she said. "Here we criticize capitalism, but we don't even know what it is. . . . I want to be part of a movement to change their minds."

Link to LA Times: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/lati...08jun06,0,1494772.story?page=2


Guatemala's Maya Biosphere Reserve


Вторник, 30 Августа 2011 г. 23:10 + в цитатник

Thanks to the Rainforest Alliance, xate collectors living in Uaxactún, a community in Guatemala's Maya Biosphere Reserve, have learned efficient techniques for managing xate, a type of palm that provides them with a means to earning a sustainable livelihood. To allow for faster regeneration, xateros now cut only quality leaves so that more fronds remain on the palm, and they sell their leaves for twice as much as they did previously.

See 10 more photos on www.rainforest-alliance.org


Серия сообщений "Guatemala":
Часть 1 - Guatemala - Country Profile
Часть 2 - Guatemala: Mayan Ruins
Часть 3 - Guatemala's Maya Biosphere Reserve


Guatemala: Mayan Ruins


Вторник, 30 Августа 2011 г. 23:02 + в цитатник

Mayan Ruins

Mayan Ruins in Guatemala are a living testimony to a culture that once flourished between 700 BC to 900 AD.

The most prominent Mayan Ruins can be found in the Tikal area and across the Honduran border in Copan. Smaller remains of Mayan buildings can be seen all over Guatemala. Mayan Ruins are the truly astounding evidence of a long lasting, dynamic cultural tradition. The monuments paid tribute to the rulers of the past, and inscriptions inside are concerned with dynasties and conquests, alliance and raids. Some 10 square miles of central Tikal have been mapped revealing over 3000 separate constructions: Huge stones brought down by the rivers of the south coast served as the raw material for the carving of gigantic sculptures that have been found in this region.

The Great Plaza is the most spectacular structure in Tikal and is surrounded by stelae and sculpted altars, ceremonial buildings, residential and administrative palaces, and a ball court. At each end of the plaza loom the temple of the Great Jaguar and the Temple II. The temple of the Great Jaguar is located on the eastern side of the Great Plaza and measures more than 150 feet in height. The temple was erected about 700 AD by order of Ah Cacao, whose tomb was discovered inside. Temple II: This temple stands at the western end of the Great Plaza and rises to a height of 120 feet.

The ancient city of Copan, 13km from the Guatemalan border in Honduras, is one of the most outstanding Mayan achieve- ments ranking among Tikal. People have been living in the Copan valley at least since around 1200 and probably before that. Reigned by kings, the royal sculptors of Copan displayed their innovative talents in many ways. The Hieroglyphic Stairway includes the longest single glyphic text found at any Maya site. It now appears that the stairway commemorates Copan Rulers 1 through 15.

Quirigua is one of the smallest Mayan cities but one of the most notable due to its splendid series of monuments. These include the largest block of stone ever carved by the Mayas. The site includes temples, eleven other large stelae, and four rocks carved in the form of mythological animals.

Aguateca is an other archaeological site that flourished in the region of Peten during the Classic Period. Nestled in the vegetation on the Pasion River Ceibal, it is one of the most interesting combinations of waterways, natural beauty and archaeological interest.

Read tourist info on Caribbean's Taste

Серия сообщений "Guatemala":
Часть 1 - Guatemala - Country Profile
Часть 2 - Guatemala: Mayan Ruins
Часть 3 - Guatemala's Maya Biosphere Reserve

Серия сообщений "Maya":
Часть 1 - Guatemala - Country Profile
Часть 2 - Guatemala: Mayan Ruins

Серия сообщений "Caribbean":
Часть 1 - Guatemala: Mayan Ruins


Guatemala: Travel Advice - 2


Вторник, 30 Августа 2011 г. 22:53 + в цитатник

Guatemala - Travel Advice by U.S. Embassy

Crime and Public Safety

Recent Crime Incidents Involving Foreigners

The information contained here is based on general reporting of crime incidents in Guatemala affecting both foreign tourists and foreign residents of nationalities from outside the region. Reports of crimes on this website are drawn from a variety of sources and are not intended to be complete or a general analysis of crime in Guatemala. However, these brief descriptions provide information on the types of crimes committed against foreigners. Non-violent crimes, those not involving a weapon, and/or those not involving a substantial loss of property, are not included here. More information on current patterns and trends of crime in Guatemala is included in the Country Specific Information Sheet. This list is only additional information, and the CIS remains the Department of State’s definitive statement. Please also read “A Safe Trip Abroad”.

Examples of Crime Incidents Against Foreigners in 2011 and 2010: (Read further on the U.S.Embassy site...)


Guatemala: Travel Advice


Вторник, 30 Августа 2011 г. 22:49 + в цитатник

Travel Advice for Guatemala (by Australian MFAT)


We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Guatemala because of the risk of serious criminal activity and incidents of local unrest. 

Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks. 

We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to the Department of Peten (including the site of Tikal) due to increased security measures in the region. On 16 May 2011, Guatemalan authorities declared a “State of Siege” in the Peten Department following the killing of 27 people near La Libertad. During the "State of Siege" security forces will have increased powers and are likely to conduct security operations in the department. The “State of Siege” in the Department of Peten remains in place. 

Guatemala has a high violent crime rate. Criminals have targeted tourists arriving at the international airport and travelling to hotels in Guatemala City and Antigua. 

Guatemala’s Presidential election will be held in September 2011. There is an increased risk of political violence and demonstrations in the period leading up to and following the election. You should avoid all protests and demonstrations as they may turn violent. 

Tensions remain in Rio Dulce, Livingston, Lake Izabal and Puerto Barrios in Izabal Department. If you intend to visit this region, we advise you to check with local authorities and monitor the local media for developments. 
The hurricane season is June to November when landslides, mudslides and flooding may occur. In the case of a hurricane, monitor local media reports and follow the instructions of local emergency officials. See the Natural Disasters section for detailed advice. 

Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Guatemala. The Canadian Embassy in Guatemala City provides consular assistance to Australians in Guatemala (except the issue of passports). The Australian Embassy in Mexico can also assist Australians. 

Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas: 
-organise comprehensive travel insurance and check what circumstances and activities are not covered by your policy 
-register your travel and contact details, so we can contact you in an emergency 
-subscribe to this travel advice to receive free email updates each time it's reissued.

Read more on SmartTraveller.gov.au


Q'umarkaj - Archeological Site in Guatemala


Вторник, 30 Августа 2011 г. 22:26 + в цитатник

Q'umarkaj, (K'iche: [qʔumarˈkah]) (sometimes rendered as Gumarkaaj, Gumarcaj, Cumarcaj or Kumarcaaj) is an archeological site in the southwest of the El Quiché department of Guatemala.[2] Q'umarkaj is also known as Utatlán, the Nahuatl translation of the city's name. The name comes from K'iche' Q'umarkah "Place of old reeds".[2]

Q'umarkaj was one of the most powerful Maya cities when the Spanish arrived in the region in the early 16th century.[3] It was the capital of the K\'iche\' Maya in the Late Postclassic Period.[4] At the time of the Spanish Conquest, Q'umarkaj was a relatively new capital, with the capital of the K\'iche\' kingdom having originally been situated at Jakawitz (identified with the archaeological site Chitinamit) and then at Pismachi\'.[5] Q\'umarkaj was founded during the reign of king Q'uq'umatz ("Feathered Serpent" in K'iche') in the early 15th century, immediately to the north of Pismachi'.[6] In 1470 the city was seriously weakened by a rebellion among the nobility that resulted in the loss of key allies of the K'iche'.

Archaeologically and ethnohistorically, Q\'umarkaj is the best known of the Late Postclassic highland Maya capitals.[7] The earliest reference to the site in Spanish occurs in Hernán Cortés\' letters from Mexico. Although the site has been investigated, little reconstruction work has taken place. The surviving architecture, which includes a Mesoamerican ballcourt, temples and palaces, has been badly damaged by the looting of stone to build the nearby town of Santa Cruz del Quiché.

The major structures of Q'umarkaj were laid out around a plaza. They included the temple of Tohil, a jaguar god who was patron of the city, the temple of Awilix, the patron goddess of one of the noble houses, the temple of Jakawitz, a mountain deity who was also a noble patron and the temple of Q\'uq\'umatz, the Feathered Serpent, the patron of the royal house. The main ballcourt was placed between the palaces of two of the principal noble houses. Palaces, or nimja, were spread throughout the city. There was also a platform that was used for gladiatorial sacrifice.

The area of Greater Q'umarkaj was divided into four major political division, one for each of the most important ruling lineages, and also encompassed a number of smaller satellites sites, including Chisalin, Pismachi\', Atalaya and Pakaman.[8] The site core is open to the public and includes basic infrastructure, including a small site museum.[9]


Q'umarkaj comes from the K'iche' Q'umqaraq'aj.[7] While often translated as "place of old reeds" or "place of rotted cane",[10] the name Q'uma'rka'aaj translates more precisely as "rotted reed houses" (q'uma'r = "rotten";[11] ka'aaj = "house or shack built of cane and reeds"). It was translated as Tecpan Utatlan by the Nahuatl-speaking Tlaxcalan allies of the Spanish conquistadors,[12] with Tecpan being added to distinguish the city as being a seat of rule, equivalent to the Tollan used in Mesoamerica in earlier times.[13]

Wikipedia in English

Wikipedia in Spanish

K'iche' Kingdom of Q'umarkaj


Guatemala - Country Profile


Суббота, 04 Июня 2011 г. 17:30 + в цитатник

Guatemala country profile 


A country of striking features and a strong indigenous culture, Guatemala's natural beauty and powerful identity stand in stark contrast to its bloody past and troubled present.

Mountainous, heavily forested and dotted with Mayan ruins, lakes, volcanoes, orchids and exotic birds, Guatemala is one of the most beautiful countries in Central America. 

Its indigenous population, the Maya, make up about half of the population. Mayan languages are spoken alongside Spanish, the official tongue. Many Guatemalans are of mixed Amerindian-Hispanic origin. 


Guatemala's beauty and strength of identity have not been accompanied by cohesion and prosperity. In 1996 it emerged from a 36-year-long civil war which pitted leftist, mostly Mayan insurgents against the army, which - backed by the US - waged a vicious campaign to eliminate the guerrillas. 

More than 200,000 people - most of them civilians - were killed or disappeared. 

Despite an official finding that 93% of all atrocities carried out during the war had been committed by the security forces, moves to bring those responsible to account started only after a long delay. 
Dancers celebrate St Joseph's Day in Guatemala City

Social inequality is a major feature of Guatemala. Poverty is particularly widespread in the countryside and among indigenous communities. 

Illiteracy, infant mortality and malnutrition are among the highest in the region, life expectancy is among the lowest and, in common with many of its neighbours, the country is plagued by organised crime and violent street gangs. It is a major corridor for smuggling drugs from South America to the United States. 

Despite talks and international mediation, a long-running territorial dispute with neigbouring Belize remains unresolved. Guatemala lays claim to thousands of square kilometres of land. 

Overview Facts Leaders Media 

Full name: Republic of Guatemala 
Population: 14.3 million (UN, 2010) 
Capital: Guatemala City 
Major languages: Spanish, more than 20 indigenous languages 
Major religion: Christianity, indigenous Mayan beliefs 
Life expectancy: 68 years (men), 75 years (women) (UN) 
Monetary unit: 1 quetzal = 100 centavos 
Main exports: Coffee, sugar, bananas, fruits and vegetables, meat, petroleum, cardamon 
GNI per capita: US $2,620 (World Bank, 2009) 
Internet domain: .gt 
International dialling code: + 502

Read more on BBC web-page...

Серия сообщений "Guatemala":
Часть 1 - Guatemala - Country Profile
Часть 2 - Guatemala: Mayan Ruins
Часть 3 - Guatemala's Maya Biosphere Reserve

Серия сообщений "Maya":
Часть 1 - Guatemala - Country Profile
Часть 2 - Guatemala: Mayan Ruins

Серия сообщений "K'iche":
Часть 1 - Guatemala - Country Profile


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